Here's How Hilton Worldwide is Using the Internet of Things to Create a Truly Connected Travel Experience
Conrad Hilton purchased his first hotel in 1919, in Cisco, Texas - the 40-room Mobley Hotel. However, although he purchased more hotels during this time, none yet bore the Hilton name. The first to do so was the Dallas Hilton which opened its doors in 1925. In 1927, the new Hilton in Waco, Texas, became the first hotel to feature air conditioning and cold running water.
Today Hilton is an internationally recognized hotel brand with over 5,000 locations all over the globe. The company employs over 169,000 staff and has revenue of $11,663 million, placing it at #241 on the Fortune 500.
Since the beginning, it's clear Hilton has never shied away from innovation. While air conditioning and cold running water may be a regular feature in most hotels these days, Hilton is still looking for new ways to improve the customer experience for its guests - especially when it comes to digital technology.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) technology has become big business in recent years. With a multitude of internet-enabled devices now available for consumers to fill their homes with, everything from coffee machines to doorbells can be taken online. Home controlling devices such as Amazon's Echo and Google Home can now bring all these objects together, further blurring the lines between the physical and digital world.
(Image source: digitaltrends.com)
And so it was only natural for IoT technology to be introduced into people's homes away from home - hotels. "Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room," Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said. "Imagine a world where you walk in, the TV says, 'How are you doing, John? Nice to see you,' and all of your stuff is preloaded - and not only preloaded, but the only thing you ever need to touch to control in the room is [the smartphone] in the palm of your hand."
Hilton has been experimenting and beta testing smart personalized hotel rooms, with plans to roll the technology out companywide throughout 2018.
The Connected Room
Hilton's focus for its IoT implementation initiative is on empowering its guests with unprecedented levels of control over their own customer experience. The Hilton Honors smartphone application has been updated with new and revolutionary technology to facilitate this control. The app can presently be used as a digital room key, for room selection, and even ordering a taxi, but it's about to get a whole load of new features to boot.
"Through the app, members will be able to seamlessly control their room's lighting, HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning], and entertainment options, including pre-loaded and streaming content," said Nassetta.
When checking in at the beginning of their stay, guests will be able to register the app with their room. Once their device has been authorized, it can be used to control many aspects of the stay. Initial applications have been focused around changing the lighting, adjusting the air conditioning, or choosing entertainment products to stream, but Hilton views the project as having many more functions in the future, including ordering room service, getting personalized suggestion on activities, and allowing in-device booking.
Voice control is something which Hilton as hinted at implementing, but is presumably waiting until the technology is more accurate and dependable before it does. "We're constantly testing that," said Hilton spokesperson Julia Burge. "But the pilot being rolled out will not have voice for the time being."
Hilton is also currently in negotiations with a range of media providers, seeking new streaming options which can be offered alongside the smart technology. The intention is to grow and develop the new platform alongside available technology, and to continue to add new services as it becomes possible to do so at a level of quality which Hilton customers demand.
It's clear Hilton takes its reputation as an innovator seriously. As time goes on, hotel customers can expect to see IoT technology being as common a staple as air conditioning and cold running water are today - it's only fitting that Hilton should be spearheading these developments as they occur.
The final word goes to Julia Burge.
"Our teams are constantly testing off-the-shelf stuff," she said. "But nothing that is direct to consumer provided enough, both for our guests and hotel owners, so we built something from the ground up. Our platform is expected to grow and expand as the availability of technology grows and expands. The smartphone will be the remote control of the hotel room."
You can hear Hilton Worldwide's Vice President of Digital User Experience, Rich Clayton, speak at Digital Travel 2018 in April/May at the Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa, Nevada.
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